UM BioPark, Club UMB Give STEM Education a Boost
Kindling a child's curiosity and attraction to science is the goal of
several programs supported by the University
of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Routinely, students in the
University's seven schools take on mentoring roles, devoting volunteer
hours on a science project with a title such as "mousetrap vehicle." In
other instances, faculty members and their professional peers
collaborate to open up labs for learning or to aid teachers.
The University of Maryland BioPark has held events that promote education in STEM (science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. An example is the
BioBoot Camp held June 19 for science teachers from schools in
Baltimore City and in Baltimore, Prince George's, and Montgomery
"What this does," said teacher Anupama Sekhsaria, of Poolesville High
School in Montgomery County, "is bring the forefront of research to us
teachers so that we can take it to the classroom and explain it to our
She was referring to a demonstration at BioBoot Camp in which a micro
array is used to convey concepts in genomics. That demonstration was
performed by Linda Yaswen-Corkery, PhD,
senior technology licensing officer at UMB; and by Michelle Giglio, PhD, assistant
professor at the School of
Medicine and associate director for analysis at the Informatics
Resource Center of the School's Institute
for Genome Sciences (IGS). IGS is a BioPark tenant.
A key player in hands-on science projects is CLUB UMB, an after-school program conducted by the President's
Outreach Council at several public schools that are in
partnerships with the University. CLUB UMB recruits mentors from the
UMB community and sponsors their engagement with the youngsters during
activities that include fitness and nutrition awareness.
Sometimes the outreach efforts are intertwined. That was so during May
and June, when BioPark tenants staged their second annual BioBlast Open
House, a day of activities for middle school students. Subsequently one of the participating students was presented with prizes to encourage his interest
The recipient was a 12-year-old who has been active in CLUB UMB at
Southwest Baltimore Charter School (SWBC). Ishmael Dah of Baltimore is
shown in the photo above in the lobby of SWBC on June 12 with Lisa Rawlings, MBA, director,
BioWorkforce Initiatives at the UM BioPark, left; and Brian Sturdivant, MSW, director,
Strategic Initiatives and Community Partnerships at UMB.
Ishmael is the winner of a first-place medal, shown in the photo below, in the Baltimore City
regional tournament of the 2013 Science Olympiad, competing with
children in Grades 6-9. Along with SWBC classmate Hosea Addison,
Ishmael won first in the "rotor egg drop" contest, assisted by mentors Alexandria Collis and Rachael Troct, who are students at
the School of Medicine (SOM).
The CLUB UMB team advanced to the state level on the strength of its showing at the regional tournament, which was held on March 2 at Morgan
State University. All the students from SWBC who competed won
awards in their respective categories.
CLUB UMB's entry in the "crime busters" category fared best, with SWBC
students Dijaih Hill and Martaeja Baskerville winning
second-place medals at the regional level and third-place at state, in
a tournament held in April. They were assisted by mentor Juliana Wu, a SOM student.
In "shock value" and in "rocks and minerals," student C.J. Lee won
second-place medals in each category with the help of mentors Nick Masters and Kimbery White, both of the SOM. In
"boomilever," students Jake Lamason and Warner Brockman won third with
the help of SOM mentors Joseph
Heartstein and Ian Harrold.
In the one category at the regional level in which the SWBC entrant
could not be present, Ishmael stepped in to operate the "mousetrap
vehicle" with the help of mentor Chin
Hsiang Feng, a SOM student.
Ishmael was among the children attending the BioBlast event who were
encouraged to write an essay about why they like science. His
submission was rewarded with an e-reader and with a scholarship to a
weeklong summer enrichment camp.
These were made possible by a grant from Cristata
Cares, a Baltimore-based charitable organization, whose officials,
Jonathan Bradley and Joy Nanda, DSc, MS, MHS, MBA, came to SWBC for the presentation, pictured from left below with Ishmael, SWBC's principal, Jaime Stone, and executive director, Erika Brockman, LCSW-C.
Ishmael's mother, Timek Dah, is an engineer who said the family eagerly
enrolled him in a camp at the Maryland Science Center for children ages
11-13. The topic: "How Things are Made." "There were only a few slots
left," she said. Ishmael, when asked about how he got interested in
science, said it happened during fifth grade at SWBC. "That's when I
started to hear about science and I was getting curious and
wanting to explore the world."
For all the children given the opportunity to attend the BioBlast Open
House on May 3, the whole point was "getting curious" and cultivating
the urge to explore. Students from UMB partner schools SWBC, Booker T. Washington Middle
School, and James McHenry Elementary/Middle School were joined by their
mentors for the day, high school age students at the Vivien T. Thomas
Medical Arts Academy, a total of more than 100 students.
All were enticed with experiments such as "Glorious Gases" and "Crunchy
Munchy Confidential." Activities took place in labs at the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) of Baltimore City Community College, and elsewhere in the UM BioPark building at 801 W. Baltimore St.
Giglio of IGS was involved in hands-on science in this event as well,
as was Charles "Colin" Brinkman,
postdoctoral fellow at the SOM's Center for Vascular and
Inflammatory Disease; Jole Gibson,
coordinator at UMB's University Recreation and Fitness; Sue Kinsey, MS, of Gliknik, Inc.; Paul Price, PhD, of Paragon
Bioservices; and John Powers, PhD, of Baltimore BioWorks -- all
tenants of the UM BioPark.
Lending a hand from LSI were Kathleen Norris, PhD; Richard Danforth, MPH; and Amrita Madabushi, PhD, who is shown in the photo below interacting with a youngster.
Also participating were representatives of scientific enterprises in
the region who wanted to help with STEM education. They included
Jean-Claude Marshall, PhD, of the Center for Translational Research, a
part of Catholic Health Initiatives in Towson; and Jennifer Singelyn,
PhD, of Becton, Dickinson & Co., in Sparks.
|Posting Date: 07/11/2013
|Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
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